Anyone who tells you that fouls are not part of the game of soccer hasn't been out there lately. Just ask Stephen Locker, coach of the Harvard men's soccer team.
"It's a brutal game," said Locker, following Harvard's 3-0 loss to New Hampshire yesterday in Durham, N.H. "I've looked at the last three games, and the team with the most fouls has won...I'm real frustrated about that."
But as unglamorous as they may be, UNH's tactics were successful--the Wildcats are undefeated and improved their record to 8-0 yesterday while the Crimson fall to 0-1 in the Ivy League and 1-3 overall.
"They do what they have to do to win," Locker said.
UNH, ranked third in the East behind Ancient Eight power Dartmouth and Boston University, jumped on the scoreboard nine minutes into the contest when Wildcats junior Aaron Porter headed a cross pass from teammate Mike Veneto into the right corner of the net.
About 13 minutes later, Veneto took advantage of some Harvard misfortunes to double the Crimson deficit. A UNH pass in front of the net deflected off of a Harvard defender, and Veneto finished the ball easily and boosted his team's lead to two goals.
"[Veneto] is always a threat, and he's clearly their best player," Locker said.
The scoring was completed with just over five minutes remaining in the contest when Wildcat junior Dave Kurzontkowski exploited a pressing Harvard offense for his second tally of the season.
Despite yesterday's one-sided score, Locker was not at all disappointed in his team's effort.
"Our kids played really hard," Locker said. "We had a few runs at `em."
Locker was particularly pleased with the play of freshman forward Will Kohler.
"He's got to be one of the best players in the country," Locker said.
But Kohler and the Crimson could not overcome the Wildcat's aggressiveness. Harvard simply could not get into the flow, and Locker said that all the fouls prevent the Crimson from really playing soccer.